Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Fed Stays Patient: As expected, the Fed said on Wednesday that it would remain patient when it comes to raising interest rates, and the Journal, New York Times, Financial Times and Washington Post all produced reports on the Fed's meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the Fed will likely raise interest rates next year, but no sooner than late April, as the central bank exercises patience in waiting for the precise moment that would be best. Yellen stressed that the statement did "not represent a change in our policy intentions." Yellen said that the bank will act only when it's "reasonably confident" that the labor market is tightening, which will lead to an increase in inflation. The Journal pointed out that is considerable dissension among the Fed's Board of Governors, as three Fed officials dissented at Wednesday's meeting. Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, for example, wants the Fed to stop giving time-linked guidance about its rate plans. The "Heard on the Street" column opines, however, that inflation may continue to be pressured by things like a drop in oil prices, and the strong dollar and weak overseas growth, and that any signals that inflation isn't heading in the direction the Fed wants will delay an increase in rates.
It Pays to Whistle: Edward O'Donnell, the whistle blower who called out Countrywide Mortgage, will receive about $57 million from his role in filing a False Claims Act lawsuit against Bank of America, which acquired Countrywide before the financial crisis. O'Donnell's lawsuit helped federal prosecutors obtain a $16.7 billion penalty against B of A for its role in the subprime mortgage crisis. O'Donnell specifically singled out Countrywide's "Hustle" program that rewarded employees for producing loans regardless of the quality of the borrowers. After leaving B of A, O'Donnell went to work for Fannie Mae, which O'Donnell said was defrauded by Countrywide. O'Donnell left Fannie Mae in the past month, but his lawyer wouldn't say why.
Going Negative: The Swiss central bank will adopt a negative 0.25% interest rate on bank deposits starting next month, as a way to reduce demand for the Swiss franc. The move was made in part as a response to the collapse of the ruble, as capital had been flowing to the perceived security of the Swiss franc. The European Central Bank already has a negative 0.2% interest rate on deposits.
Wall Street Journal
JPMorgan Chase and other investment banks have figured out a way to profit from the rise of activist shareholders: Advise executives at targeted companies on defense strategies. You can almost hear the mouse clicks as investment bankers rack up the billable hours: the work of advising a company that's in the cross hairs of an activist investor "can involve near-daily calls and frequent late-night strategy sessions," the WSJ story said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will ban oil fracking, a move that may some interpret as a bad sign for the economy of western New York, as well as those banks that do commercial lending in that part of the state. But in piece of potentially good economic news for the eastern part of upstate New York, a state board agreed to grant three new casino licenses.
Cleveland Plain Dealer: KeyBank had problems on Wednesday with online banking, mobile banking and ATMs, but the issues so far don't appear to be related to a cyberattack and no customer information was compromised, the Cleveland paper reported. The issues were fixed late Wednesday.